What have you done lately for your recovery?

30 Apr

When was the last time you did something positive for your recovery?

When did you last push yourself further than you thought possible because you wanted to find yourself a bit freer from the disorder that binds you? Have you reflected recently on your recovery process? Do it now and be honest with yourself.

Are you just drifting by? Living in a world that is neither sickness nor health but that cold place in between which you tell yourself you’re ok with? Have you reached your limit and if you were to think about the extent of that limit do you want to weep because it hurts, so the only thing you can do is not think about it? Do you still find yourself too much but lacking? Do you spend each day praying that nobody notices the behaviours that you can’t seem to shake and hoping beyond hope that if they do notice, they won’t ask you to give that up too because you’re not really sure that you can? Have you lost your motivation, your self-belief, or your desire to push anymore? Do you comfort yourself with the fact that you’re almost well or at least not dead and accept that that is more than you’d ever hoped for so therefore it must be enough?

Or…

Are you challenging yourself? Embracing the body that you live in and finding that peace has started to settle on your soul? Are you hopeful for a future in which your disorder is nothing more than a memory? Is its voice softening and you are finding it is being replaced by everything else that you had never had the space to consider before, things that startle, amaze you and fill you with hope? Do you find pleasure in food, the taste, smells and textures? If you look in the mirror, do you see strength, wellness and a body that is more than the place in which you store all your hurt? Is your recovery still active, still something you are willing to give your everything to because you want a life that is not stained with this disorder anymore? Do you still hope for something more?

Reflecting on my own recovery process isn’t something I’ve been doing very well lately and admittedly not very honestly either on the occasions that I do. I stopped engaging in recovery a while back and I’ve consoled myself with the thought ‘at least I’m not engaging in the disorder’. I’m questioning though if that’s possible, if you can exist in neither sphere. If I’m just letting the voices of Anorexia gently tangle themselves up in my brain then does that mean it’s winning? I’m not sure. A food disappears out of my diet and I just let it. I pull back on the calories that I consume and rationalise it by telling myself that what I was having before was just a little excessive. What I’m doing isn’t extreme, it’s just a tweak here and there. I sit and shake through a meal then never do that meal again because the anxiety is too high, but again I tell myself that it’s ok, I have safer options. Whilst I am doing all this, it feels like I can breathe for the first time in a long time because I am not challenging that thing inside of my head which hates me. Yet I know equally that I do not have the time, resources or desire to free-fall back into Anorexia. It’s a brutal place and I know that I do not want to make it home again. It’s like I’m stuck and so I drift. Not moving forward in my recovery. Not moving into a relapse either. Something is going to have to change but there isn’t the will there right now. It’s like there is a void inside of me that I wouldn’t describe as numb, I just don’t feel very much at the moment other than a ridiculous level of anxiety. So honesty is always the first step…I think I suck as a recovery advocate right now and I’m possibly living a little lie. Yet it’s not like I’m drowning in the disorder. Does this any of this make sense because I am doubting that I’m even capable of doing that right now? That’s all I have.

I hope your day has been good to you.

Check In

29 Apr

This week hasn’t felt great. Some of it’s me feeling a little out of step, or like I’m drowning and as though I am waiting for someone is going to figure out how I have no idea what I’m doing so they can call me out. My confidence has taken a knock to the extent that I feel incapable of creating a coherent thought and when I try to speak out loud, I stumble on the worlds. It’s not ideal for when I have meetings and classes to work my way through. Apparently it’s normal for those who are extremely anxious, something about the brain being too overwhelmed by the anxious thoughts that it prevents those higher functioning systems such as language or memory. My Doctor is full of fun facts like this in his attempts to make me feel better about the situation. I would say that it helps. I guess the anxiety is coming from partially the medication tapering but I don’t think that’s all. I’m not really sure if I’m honest, everything is a little bit tangled up lately. Food, anxiety, little mood dips, random intrusive thoughts that tell me to do stupid things that I don’t want to do (also apparently normal). What’s more is that my deadlines are fast approaching and I’m so close to the finish line. I have two papers left, one should be done by tomorrow. Then that’s it. My summer break begins and I will have nothing to distract me from the horribleness of this medication thing which will be continuing for another couple of months at least. I’m a little concerned that food is getting harder. It’s effort to eat, or more of an effort than usual. I’d forgotten largely what it felt like to force myself when it’s the last thing I want to do. I’m telling myself it’s because my body is confused and unhappy with me right now but I’m not really sure that accounts for the thoughts. Then again the thoughts never really went away, did they? I figured though that I can suck it up though and keep going. Ride this out. This has an end point. This doesn’t last forever. I just have to keep telling myself that.

I don’t really have the energy to add anything more tonight but wanted to just check in.
I hope your day is been kind to you.

GP Appointment

23 Apr

A few days have passed since I got moderately real on here about the struggle. The truth is that I was just going to let it fester away in my head and keep hold of that silence. It felt like the safer option. Like if I kept it locked up in there then it couldn’t do any damage. The thing is though, it was/is doing damage whether I give words to it or not. So this week when I saw my GP, I let him on some of the things that my brain was doing and you know what, as expected he was lovely about it. Let me give you some context. About a month ago, I started the process of coming off my anti-depressant. I’ve been on these ones a bit longer than I thought (6 years) and I thought that I was finally in a place to come off them. Admittedly, my anxiety was playing up before I started this process but my mood was steady which is always a pleasant surprise. The first two weeks on the reduced dose was physically a bit unpleasant but not horrendous. The anxiety remained relatively stable at terrible which wasn’t too bad because at least it wasn’t worse. This week I hit the 3 week mark and was ready to do the next drop. I went to see the GP on Tuesday to take that step. First we ran through how those weeks had been. All my little odd withdrawal effects that I experienced turned out to be not that odd at all which was reassuring. He was however more concerned with how I was doing mentally. Our conversation went a little like this (bear in mind I don’t have perfect recall but you’ll get the gist)

Me: The anxiety still isn’t that great. Several panic attacks throughout the day, everyday.
GP: How has the propanalol (beta-blocker) been?
Me: I don’t know, I haven’t actually taken it. I’m too anxious to take it.
GP: What’s making you anxious about it? Side effects?
Me: Not really. I don’t know what it is. I’ve just gotten more weird about things.
GP: What do you mean?
Me: Well, I feel stupid really but…so I have this thing where…so I have lists for foods, safe foods and there is no way in a million years I can eat that list.
GP: I know what you mean.
Me: Ok so I wake up everyday lately and find that something from the safe list has jumped to the not safe life and I know there is no rational explanation for it. It’s just happening.
GP: What do you think will happen if you eat something from the unsafe list?
Me: No specified something bad.
GP: Ok. That’s what we call magical thinking. It’s an OCD trait. It’s like if you think that if you step on a crack then someone is going to get hurt.
Me: I know what it is, it’s just my thoughts are off the charts at the moment and this is how my Eating Disorder starts to worm its way in. When I can’t use that old justification of not needing something for energy wise then this is what happens. It’s a way of reducing my diet in a non conscious way.

Anyway we talked for a little longer and then it came down to make the choice of whether to drop the dose or stay where I was for a while. There wasn’t a hesitation in my mind of what I wanted to do. Drop the damn dose! He was happy to do that, he’s all for patient empowerment. He just wants me to be careful, to see him if it gets worse or unmanageable and to come for another review in a couple of weeks. He warned me at the new dose, I might start to feel more sleepy and it can increase appetite. That I wasn’t expecting it and when I asked if I could just skip this part apparently that isn’t an option. I told him I was worried about it and he said it was only slight and being on the dose that I was and not having it impact my weight wasn’t worrying to him. He said I imagine that your body doesn’t have great hunger cues anymore which he is right. I don’t. I always feel terrible to admit that because it feels like my body didn’t heal in the way that it should have. Hunger signals are supposed to come back when your body has enough energy and it trusts you enough to respond to any signals that it sends. I don’t think my body will ever trust me in that way again. Additionally my body is apparently going to be freaking out so much at the reduced dose that it won’t know how to deal with anything for a while. So how is it going you ask? Not too bad. Ok so the anxiety has been way intense these last couple of days but that’s a long embarrassing story. Other than that, the usual suspects: headache, nausea, muscle spasms, a little breathing issue, palpitations and (not so usual) nosebleeds. The last one freaks me out a little when it happens. Things are steady though and for the most part my mood is still holding. Hooray for small saving graces. I’m holding it here for a month and then halving it again which wasn’t in my plan. My plan was to just stop after this but GP wants to take it slower. I trust him enough to listen to him.

The rest of my world is good though. We finally have some sunshine here in the UK!!! although admittedly it’s apparently going to change this weekend to something that’s not so bright. As typical of us Brits though, the BBQ came out. My brother decided to throw an impromptu family one at his house at the start of the week. I’ll be honest I wasn’t looking forward to it with my multiple of issues right now but bless him, he did try to accommodate me and managed to make something safe and doable for me. I love that my family have finally grasped that I can’t explain a lot of my rules or fears but they just accept it that for now and probably for a long time that’s how it’s going to be. The night turned out to be quite lovely to be honest and we had a bit of a laugh. Uni work is going well or going at the very least. I’m 2 papers down out of 5 so not doing too badly. I have three weeks left of term and then I’m done for Summer. It’s come quickly. I pretty much spend all my time working though to make those deadlines and get the grades that I want. I’ve set this benchmark for myself and I’ll be devastated if I let it slip. It’s a lot of pressure that comes completely from me but I don’t mind it. It feels good to have ridiculously high standards for something non destructive. I do take some breaks. Yesterday morning I went with my nephew (17 months) and my sister to an aquarium. It’s also fun to hang out with him because the world is still so exciting for him. Everything is new and wonderful and his face at seeing it all…spectacular. Today I’ve just kind of hid at home, trying to still the panic, trying to work on my lit review for my dissertation proposal and finally given it up and giving the house a good clean. It always makes me feel calmer. That’s it. That’s me this week.

I hope your day has been kind to you

3 Reasons for Silence

15 Apr

There are some days the heaviness of the Eating Disorder weighs on me. I find myself drifting off in to thoughts that I should not be thinking or sitting down to a meal and finding that the fear of it paralyses me and knowing that I have to get over it and do it anyway. Some days I wake up and I realise that a food which felt doable or even relatively safe has slipped back on to the unsafe list. I can’t rationalise it. I have no idea where it’s come from or why, all I do know is that if I eat that one food then something terrible is going to happen. I have no evidence for it but it’s a feeling that has slipped into the deepest part of my heart and leaves me on the brink of a panic attack. You know what the hardest part of it is though is that there is no one to talk to about it. There is no one I will let in enough for them to able to tell me that I’m being ridiculous and sit with me whilst I do the things I’m afraid of the most. Let’s be honest here, I don’t really remember the last time I challenged myself properly or brought out that old list of all the foods that I was supposed to try to prove to myself that it was fine to eat. Instead of allowing that safe list to grow or even find a way to abolish the lists that makes a food one or the other, the ok list is dwindling. More honesty? That list currently has about 20 items on it. 20 items to make breakfasts, lunch, dinners and suppers. Things get repetitive around here.

There are reasons why I don’t tell anybody about how things really are. The first is that I am bored of this entire situation and therefore am pretty sure that the people who care about me are too. I struggle to have the same old conversation again and again. I know that things are probably going to be like this either for a very long time or even forever. I have to just accept that and no amount of words is going to change. Yes, I realise it’s not the most positive statement that’s ever been written on this blog.

Secondly, I’m weight restored or at least my weight is now in the healthy range according to that ridiculous BMI scale. I don’t look like I have a problem and I think people who don’t really understand an Eating Disorder see weight as the benchmark for how difficult an individual is finding things. The thing is whenever I eat, there is an internal freak out going on, even though I do my damned hardest to not let that show on the outside. Some of it is ego, I don’t want people to see how much it breaks me down everyday. I don’t want that person and be judged on it or if it even be known. I once watched a TV programme about obesity. In the show they take people who are extremely overweight and over a year they go through this process of losing weight, becoming active and doing the things that their weight had stopped them from doing. I’ll admit part of the reason I watched it was because I have a little bit of a crush on the personal trainer. Anyway, there was this one woman who hadn’t sat down to a meal with her family in over 8 years and never ate in public. They picked apart what was going on for her and the reason was because she was ashamed of eating. She was ashamed, be judged and people would think “Why is she eating that? Look at the size of her”…apparently it’s a thing with people who are overweight. They’re embarrassed to eat in public because they’re afraid of what people will say in relation to their size and how they shouldn’t be eating. I’m not overweight but that’s what I feel every time I eat, even when I’m at home, I feel it because I am judging myself. I am thinking that it’s completely unnecessary to be doing it.

The final reason is that sometimes I can convince myself that what I am doing is normal. You know what it’s like…you develop a routine, stick to your lists, it’s all predictable and you do what you need to do to have the energy to get through the day. You can see the bigger picture, why you put yourself through all that you do and you’ve made some sort of twisted peace with it. You get complacent, even a little bit cocky because you’re doing it. You have this recovery thing down. Then someone throws something expected and everything falls apart. This has happened a few times this week and I pretend that it’s cool, that I have it but I genuinely don’t. However, me being me, can’t actually let anyone know. The thing I fearing the most at the moment isn’t happening until a couple of weeks but I got asked about it today. I’ve been asked to go for a birthday meal out and my response when asked if I would be ok with this particular restaurant was “of course, sounds good to me”. It does not sound good. It does not sound doable and because I don’t want to let her down, because I don’t want to admit to a ‘weakness’ and because I have a ridiculous sense of stupid pride I want to be ok with it. I only brings this up now because that’s my curveball. That’s when I am reminded that this stupid disorder lives on in my brain and I can pretend that it’s all fine but if it was, would a meal out really make me want to breakdown and throw some kind of messed up tantrum? Probably not.

I think the point that I am trying to make is that I got to a certain stage in my recovery and then I just stopped trying to move any further forward. Yet all that time, probably 8 months of standing still, the Eating Disorder has not been receding, just chipping away and attempting to find a new way in. I feel it working on me at all angles and so far my resistances have held up. I tell myself it’s enough, that it’s ok because my weight is ok but believing that makes me no better than all those people who are uneducated about Eating Disorders. I’m reducing it down in a way that I would never to do anyone else. Somehow though, it’s ok to do it to me. This is the boring part, when the world expects you to be fine but you’re not but there are no words to explain that you’re not, but you’re better than what you were when you needed treatment and maybe this half-life will have to be acceptable because this half-life may be all that you actually get…did that just make your head spin a little too?

I want it to just stop. Haven’t I given it enough days of my life already?

I hope your day has been kind to you.

One Question

11 Apr

One question.

That’s what the choice to recover came down to.
Over the years I have found myself lost in conflict, doubt and never-ending questions about whether I was doing the right thing. I have fought harder with myself than I have with everybody else combined. Yet the truth is the only question I really should have been trying to answer is this:

What did I want more, the Eating Disorder and its unyielding suffering but it’s safety as it was all I could remember or my life, which would be messy, chaotic and filled with uncertainty, laughter and heartbreak?

It should have been an easy question to answer, but my goodness, it wasn’t.
I made that question so much more complicated than it needed to be. I dove into all the ifs and buts, became lost in believing that I was incapable of expecting anything from myself. I gave up. I let go of hope. I prayed to some type of God to make it all stop and when he didn’t, I stopped believing in a higher power too. The reality was that I didn’t want the answer which was staring me blatantly in the face. The answer of course was to recover, to go after a life and commit myself to that but Anorexia was much more convincing and insidious. It is only in the last several months, when I feel things unravelling that I am able to go back to that question, ask it again and now the answer immediately. When I look back at that time, when I was in knee-deep in counting and moving and stepping on and off the scale, it makes me so sad that for a moment it makes me stumble at little. Did I really give up so much of my life to that life?

I make it sound like I had the insight to make a rational choice at the time. That I went searching for that kind of destruction but that’s not right. I was so starved of everything – and I’m not just talking physically here – that it was like there was someone hovering above me, pulling the strings, making me it’s puppet and convincing me that’s what I’d wanted in the first place. I was dragged back to the place where I was even capable of answering that question. Yet the first, second and all the minor relapses in between left me with an unbreakable loyalty to the Eating Disorder that I didn’t even consider it. The constant whispering of its voice in my brain was always there so that even when I reached a healthy weight, it made me long for this thing which I didn’t know how to function without.

This time was different because I just couldn’t do it anymore. There was no light-bulb moment. There was no hope for something better. There was no belief that better even existed. What there was, was pure exhaustion. There was me who was broken and who didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other anymore. What other option was there when it got to that point? I knew I didn’t want to die but I knew I didn’t want to live with Anorexia anymore so that’s when I started asking myself that one question. It’s a question I still ask myself everyday and everyday I am terrified I’m going to answer it wrong. That life won’t be the one I choose. Of course I get caught up in the battles, listen to the convincing arguments that the Eating Disorder continues to throw at me and catch sight of my reflection in the mirror and want to burst in to tears. That’s ok though, partly because it has to be and partly because all that I have now, is a hell of a lot better than feeling the full epicness of the hate and hurt that Anorexia made grow inside of me.

Forgiving Our Healthcare Professionals?

8 Apr

A few days ago I sat in a meeting with a lot of people, one of them who happened to be an old psychiatrist of mine. I would add that I wasn’t there for me as a patient but as part of the committee that he chairs (Yea I’m not sure how I get talked in to these things either!). You could say that my relationship with this individual is somewhat challenging as I didn’t leave my last admission on the best of terms with him. I think his parting words were “I’ll probably see you again in a couple of months”. That admission was terrible from beginning to end. I was sectioned, I was taken on his say so to a medical ward where I had an NG tube against my wishes and ultimately he kept me alive when I didn’t want to be anymore. It’s hard to not feel bitter about it but then I also know that had he not done what he did, it’s unlikely that I’d still be here. It makes me wonder, when do we begin to forgive those health professionals who had to make choices for us that we were deemed incapable of making? How do we let go of the hurt that they made us feel in their duty to save us? Do we ever stop being angry about it? And why is it easier to forgive some and not others? Which leads me then to think about the staff in general who tried to take of me, who I never said thank you to and who I was just a shit to most of the time.

There have been a lot of times in my life where I have been found to be lacking capacity to make right and informed choices about my life. At the time, I had no insight into how messed up my thoughts were and felt wronged I guess. It is only recently that I question how hard I was on people, maybe even bordering on mean and hostile. I hated all the doctors who sectioned me. I hated the nurses who stopped my attempts to damage myself. I hated the tribunal panels who rejected my appeals. I hated that they cared about me or that they were good at their jobs but not good enough to fix me. The thing I hated the most though, which broke me up and tore me apart was that they wouldn’t give on me. Even when I gave up on myself.

I think you learn how to forgive what they did because you are thankful that you get the chance to be angry about it, it means you are alive. That despite the odds, you survived and you know that had they not made me those difficult decisions, this would be a different story. I think we forgive some because sometimes we just like certain people better. We are more tolerant of those we have better relationships with and with those that did not make the final decision that we hated so much. I’m not sure if you let go of the hurt. You don’t ever really forget how it made you feel but maybe that’s ok. It’s all tangled up with the horrendous you already felt and I start to wonder if the person who I can’t forgive for inflicting that pain was actually me. It was me that ended up in that position, they were just working with what they had, trying to stick plasters where they could in the hope that it would be enough. It wasn’t but what was the alternative? Let me give in to what was going on in my head.

Of course this isn’t going to apply to all health professionals that I have met. There are ones who, even now, I can’t rationalise what they did. The one that broke confidentiality in such an unnecessary but spectacular fashion. The one who manipulated and played mind games, as though I was too blind and stupid to recognise what she was trying to achieve. There were the ones who were cruel, who restrained too hard and painfully, or made useless threats in order to control. There are the thousands of looks of disdain and contempt. Then there are the ones who I struggle to be tolerant of, who are wrapped in their ignorance and fail to use their own experiences and intuition but look to assumptions and stereotypes.

I guess how I bring this all together is by recognising that I have not always been right, that in truth there are times when I have been a complete dickhead. Yet for some reason, I was still worthy of trying to salvage. Gratitude isn’t enough is it? How do you genuinely say thank you to someone for saving your life? Not just the once either. So if you are holding on to some kind of hate because someone chose to save your life and you’re kind of thankful now that they did, then let go of that hate. It’s doing nothing but harming you. If you’re still in touch with that person, maybe let them know too that you get why they did what they did, that in truth, if you had been in their position, you would have probably done the same thing too. If I’m honest…I would have done pretty much the same thing to me too. Tell them thank you! I don’t think our healthcare professionals hear that enough.

Medication Tapering

7 Apr

Anxiety has been fluttering inside of me for most of today. It started this morning pretty much as soon as I opened my eyes. It didn’t even have the decency to wait for me to have coffee! I don’t think that it helps that I have begun the process of tapering off my medication with the hope of stopping it once my May deadlines have been met. Physiologically a lot of things are flaring up as part of the withdrawal process and as much as I can rationalise most of them, there are ones which freak me out a little. The main one being a tingling sensation I get in my mouth and lips, which today has led to itchiness in my throat. It’s not painful or particularly annoying, it’s just feels weird so it’s hard not to become fixated on it. It doesn’t feel like a normal withdrawal symptom but then again, I’ve never tried to come off these meds before so what do I know?

I have been planning on going through this process for about a year now. It was important that it was the right time both for me mentally and also at a time when it would least disrupt my studies. I was going to do it last summer but somehow how got oddly manipulated and threatened into staying on them so that put a stop to that idea. So despite my excessive anxiety lately, I wanted to go ahead. I have been on medication for around 10 years. That’s a long time to not give yourself a break and see if the meds are actually working or whether I have simply developed better mechanisms for dealing with my moods/thoughts. As an adult, my brain has always had chemicals thrown at it. Can you imagine that? To not know what you’re adult brain actually functions like on it’s own. I’m sure some of you know exactly what I am talking about. I don’t know if this is going to work. It might turn out that really my adult brain should not be un-medicated and if that’s the case then so be it. At least I know…at least I tried. It’s a terrifying but also exciting process. I’ve been very focused on the physical side of what it’ll mean. Will I be horribly ill with nausea or dizzy? Will I have splitting headaches or random muscle pains? The potentials are endless. Through all that there isn’t much space left to think about what I might emotionally go through. I’m not sure if I’d know what to do if as a result my Eating Disorder becomes consuming again. What do I do if my mood crashes, or I can’t stop crying or I feel hopeless? When I think of being that way again it makes me want to stop before I even really begin. Most days I don’t think about the person who I was…pre-anorexia at it’s worst, pre-treatment, pre-any sort of balance or sanity. It was so intense and broken doesn’t come close in describing those years. I was reading through some old notes yesterday and today, trying to figure out my medication history because a lot of it is a blur and to read the things that I wrote was quite damaging. That history, my history it’s just…I don’t even have the words for what it was. I’m not sure I could survive being that person again. I barely survived it that time. To be her now and lose all that I have, to spend every waking minute physically and mentally destroying myself, I couldn’t. I suppose that’s why I have to be really careful and sensible whilst I do this.

So if you notice me going off the deep end a little, you have permission to call me out on that shit.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

Anxiety

6 Apr

A couple of days ago I wrote about my anxiety which has recently been getting steadily worse. It’s not something I ever feel comfortable admitting to because I think that I should be able to control it and admittedly it makes me feel ridiculous. I know that it is nothing to be ashamed about because I’ve spent the last however many years campaigning on this subject, letting people know that it’s ok to be struggling and it doesn’t make you any less of a person. Of course when it comes to me, I am the exception to the rule. We could argue that that is my inflated sense of ego but really it’s just stubborn pride that shouldn’t have a place. My anxiety infuriates, terrifies and exhausts me all at the same time. It’s getting a little out of control.

I’m not a stranger to this difficulty. I remember being in my early teens and it’s presence slamming its way into my life. By 15 I was having panic attacks every day, several times a day and didn’t have the ability to be in a space with more than 5 people. School was very lonely back then as I spent most of my time working in the side room next to the welfare teachers office. Those panic attacks scared me. First my breathing would go and I would begin to hyperventilate, I’d get dizzy and nauseous. My chest would get tight and my heart rate would shoot up. Then my mouth and nose would begin to tingle and eventually that would spread to my arms, hands and feet. When it was really bad my hands would spasm and lock up in some twisted position in front of me. More often than not I would cry. My thoughts would bounce off each so they were impossible to untangle and all I wanted was to run away and make it stop. That went on for a few years and then the intensity receded. I think the depression got to such a point that I didn’t even have the energy to be anxious anymore. It’s something that’s continuously altered over the last decade. Different triggers, presentation and ways to deal with it. The social anxiety lessened but then as the Eating Disorder got worse, it’s like it attached itself to that. Food anxiety, now that was something else entirely. That paralysed me and it was harder to bounce back from. Hours or days would pass with me still obsessing over the thing that I shouldn’t have eaten or the workout that I’d missed. The full blown panic attacks were rarer, this was more a low grade constant anxiety that seeped into everything. It never reached its peak so it could never come back down. If I’m honest, even with treatment, food anxiety is present all the time, I just have to suck it up and get on with it as harsh as that may sound.

So I guess this brings me to now. This round of anxiety started a few months back. I’m not sure what’s kicked it off and if I’m honest, they’ve completely caught me off guard. I don’t have a reason for them to be here. I was hoping they would go as quickly as they came but no such luck, instead the panic attacks have progressed to multiple times a day, every day. I’m not sure what to do with them and I’m kind of a little exhausted. It’s manifesting differently as well. This time my breathing is the only thing that remains stable. Instead I get the dizziness, the tightness in my chest, palpitations, muscle pain, tingling in my mouth, throat and random spots on my face. It feels like there is a lump in my throat and my heart rate beats too fast and too hard. My legs turn to jelly and I get this hot flush which makes me feel faint. Sometimes they last for hours…I saw my GP who prescribed me propanalol (beta-blocker) which I’m too anxious to take. I’m not winning here at all. I’m trying to remain upbeat, I mean it could be worse right? My mood could have gone to hell as well but it’s holding which I suppose is something to be thankful for. My food is getting more restrictive as a response though. My intake is still adequate, my safe list is however dwindling a little too rapidly for my liking. I keep getting this idea in my head that something terrible is going to happen when I eat so it’s a double whammy for my anxiety. It’s hard to deal but I have to deal. What other choice is there? Did I mention I was tired?

Ok so I’ve done the woe is me now. I’m just infuriated with myself at the moment because this is something which is beyond my control. That does not feel fine to me at all.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

It Would Be Simpler

4 Apr

I wish that Anorexia was a numbers game. That I could measure its hold on me by looking at my scales and making a judgement by what it beeps back. Perhaps then I could convince myself that this was over. That it no longer has any power over me. Yet despite what is largely believed by much of society, an Eating Disoders strength is not always reflected in the weight of a person. I’ve seen this illness devastate regardless of size.

You know when I chose to recovery, it was because I wanted a fighting chance at creating a life that I was going to be able to be around for. I didn’t expect it to be simple or easy but I thought eventually there would be an end point. Initially it was the weight. I kept thinking that reaching a healthy BMI would unlock something. It was much like the magical thinking that I had when I was unwell. You know the one where you set a goal weight and tell yourself that once you reach it, you’ll stop. It’ll be enough, you’ll be happy, everything will be perfect…Of course, it doesn’t work out that way because pretty quickly you realise that the only number that will ever be acceptable is zero – and no I don’t mean size zero – just zero. Anything more and you’re intolerable. So all I essentially did was reverse my magical thinking. I kept thinking that as I edge closer and closer to healthy, the disordered thoughts would begin to recede. They wouldn’t ambush me anymore and try to drag me under. I was wrong but I wasn’t ready to give up that belief either. I heard that the longer you sustain a healthy weight, the easier it becomes to accept it because eventually you get used to it. I held on to this, thinking that if I just gave it long enough then the distaste that I swallowed down every day would subside and I’d be able to look in a mirror without squirming. Again I was wrong.

It’s been 14 and a half months of weight restoration and it stills feel unnatural. I’m still not sure how I move in this skin and 99% of the time I feel awkward or uncomfortable. Yet most of the time I can hold on to the fact that I wouldn’t change it. Even if I feel horrible most of the time about myself, I don’t have to worry that my body is going to fail. I don’t sway when I stand up. I don’t see stars popping in my vision every time I move. Yes I’m cold still most of the time…but I like in the UK! Our weather is not exactly something to be desired. It’s both good and bad I guess. There are times now though when I crave the oblivion that eating less used to give me. It was how I dealt when everything was too much and I don’t have that now. I can’t say I’m not coping because people don’t need to hear that from me. Everything feels censored, controlled and to me right now, admitting that bit of unrest doesn’t feel ok. My anxiety is getting really out of hand lately and even when I’m chatting about that to my doctor, I have to make a joke or smile through it or minimise it. Sometimes all I want to do is to be able to have a good cry but I haven’t cried in 16 months. There are so many words inside of me lately that I don’t know how to let out so the plan is to start blogging again. To have this space where I can figure them out. I hope that’s ok?

I hope your day has been good to you

What Doesn’t Help

3 Mar

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. It’s not that I haven’t felt the need to, it’s just I didn’t really know what to say anymore. Reflection felt too painful, as though if I went there then maybe I wouldn’t be able to leave it again. I’m still worried about that writing this. Yet I am also aware that if I don’t put this somewhere then all the little comments and odd trigger moments that keep happening will push me towards a relapse. I don’t have the time nor the energy for that. I keep acting like I’m fine and I am so good at doing that now, that I think I could even fool myself if I didn’t live in my own head. It scares me how convincing I am, how adept at twisting the truth into something more palatable that I’ve become. Physically I’m fine, my weight has held, my intake is what it should be…it’s just everything else that makes me feel like I’m drowning a little. I’m supposed to have gotten used to my body by now. Eating is supposed to feel normal or at least manageable. Neither of those things are true. Every bite continues to trip me up and I wonder how much longer this can go on before I say “Fuck it!” and give into all those ugly thoughts. It’s just hard being in that place where everyone else expects you to be recovered and you’re still figuring out the recovering bit. There are times when I think this is as well as I’m going to get so I just have to get used to it above anything else. It all seems rather bleak when I think of it like that.

Eating Disorder Awareness week didn’t help. The continuous comments about how I look ranging from “You look so much healthier”, “I can see you’ve put some meat on you” and “You’ve gained a fair bit, you look more like the old you” didn’t help either. My Mother restarting her slimming group, the media, the girls at Uni, the people who knew me before treatment but don’t know I’ve been in treatment, the friend who after years of being in recovery, relapsing are also difficult to bear right now. When there isn’t a million things that I should be doing or want to do, there is only this overwhelming need to crawl into my bed, hide under my blanket and stop eating. I’m back to having daily panic attacks. I’m terrified of trying anything new that isn’t on my safe list. My moods slipping. It’s all minor right now but it’s the impact of all those things together that concerns me. Of course there is possibly only one person who has a slight idea of what’s happening in my world right now. I have the vocabulary on here, not in the real world though. I’ve become incapable of reaching out for help because I don’t think I want any or I don’t want to be that person anymore. It’s quite lonely.

Yet it is better. I’m not where I was and I am trying to remain grateful for that. My life is good for the first sustained period of time in my life. I am thankful for that everyday. Why isn’t that enough? There is a battle still raging in my head and repeatedly I wonder why…and the only answer that I can come up with is because I didn’t do the real work. When my therapist left, she told me that to recover properly I would have to engage properly in therapy. Not half heartedly, not picking and choosing what I did or did not want to say based on what I thought was relevant. I would have to talk about things which I never had the capacity to before. Her recommendation was a referral to someone who could do that work with me. I thought she was wrong. I was ready to close the door on all that but when I feel like this, when there is nothing more I can change in my life in an attempt to improve it, I begin to doubt myself. I wonder if she was in fact right.

I hope your day has been kind to you.

ten thousand spoons

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